Even though I've been busy getting to the bottom of my pile of apples, there's also been time for cooking real food, in this case: Spaghetti Speziale. Granted, that's not it's real name, but who can resist a reference to Disney's "Lady and the Tramp", when looking at this dish? The original inspiration though, came from a much less palatable corner of popular culture; the American day time show host Rachel Ray. Not that I mind the woman, no she's doing a great job trying to educate regular Americans in the kitchen. But it's kinda embarassing to admit that I've actually survived watching this type of housewife-entertainment. Anyway, I jotted down a few things but the sauce is the result of my own trial-and-error (this recipe serves 3 people):
2-3 red peppers (depending on the size) or 5 fresh tomatoes (very ripe)
1 can of tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 decilitre balsamic vinegar
Some veal stock if you like
Assorted spices (I like to try different kinds: sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, chili...)
Olive oil, salt & pepper (s&p)
If you decide to use the red peppers, start by boiling them until the skin begins to loosen from the flesh, then put them in a plastic bag and leave them in there for 10 mins. By then the skin should come off very easily. Remove the seeds and blend the flesh into a light red paste with salt, one clove of garlic and some sage. Put a lid on the paste and set it aside. Then chop up the onion and the other clove of garlic and put them in an oiled and hot saucepan. Fry them lightly with the spices of your choice and add the balsamic vinegar, let it seduce, no sorry, reduce. Add either the fresh, diced tomatoes OR the red pepper paste as well as the can of tomatoes. Stir it, turn down the heat a bit, pop in the happy sardines and leave it to bubble away for 20 mins. In the meantime you can start preparing the meatballs (see below) and when you're done - return and finish the last few steps of this recipe=> Have a taste and see if the sardines have done their job or if you need a bit of stock and s&p. It might need a bit of extra salt to balance the sweetness of the red pepper paste.
400 grams minced organic beef
1 decilitre grated parmesan cheese
2 handfuls of fresh parsley or basil, finely chopped
3/4 decilitre of roasted pine nuts, roughly chopped
1 bread roll made into small crumbs
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Mix the whole lot and shape it into little meatballs with a tablespoon. Fry them up in a very hot, oiled pan while constantly shaking and moving it, so the meatballs don't settle for too long on one side, thus making them more round. When they're evenly brownish, put them carefully into the slowly simmering tomatosauce and make sure they're covered properly. Leave in the saucepan on low heat while you cook the spaghetti with plenty of salt. Serve on a platter with fresh parmesan cheese and basil, and make sure that Luigi plays "Bella Notte" on a banged-up old mandolin when you take your first bite...
Btw, sorry 'bout the not-so-homemade-pasta...